General anesthetics are a class of drugs that target the central nervous system and are widely used for various medical procedures. General anesthetics produce many behavioral changes required for clinical intervention including amnesia, hypnosis, analgesia, and immobility; while may also induce side effects like respiration and cardiovascular depressions. Understanding the mechanism of general anesthesia is essential for the development of selective general anesthetics which can preserve wanted pharmacological actions and exclude the side effects and underlying neural toxicities. However, the exact mechanism of how general anesthetics work is still elusive. Various molecular targets have been identified as specific targets for general anesthetics. Among these molecular targets, ion channels are the most principal category, including ligand gated ionotropic receptors like γ-aminobutyric acid, glutamate and acetylcholine receptors, voltage-gated ion channels like voltage-gated sodium channel, calcium channel and potassium channels, and some second massager coupled channels. For neural functions of the central nervous system, synaptic transmission is the main procedure for which information is transmitted between neurons through brain regions, and intact synaptic function is fundamentally important for almost all the nervous functions including consciousness, memory, and cognition. Therefore, it is important to understand the effects of general anesthetics on synaptic transmission via modulations of specific ion channels and relevant molecular targets, which can lead to the development of safer general anesthetics with selective actions. The present review will summarize the effects of various general anesthetics on synaptic transmissions and plasticity.